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THE APPRENTICE - Task Eight 
“You must be the most successful double-act since the Chuckle Brothers” Lord Sugar, Episode 7 

Image supplied by www.tv.bt.com 
I have been incredibly clumsy in the past few weeks one stumble + one full-on fall = inflamed nerves and muscle spasms – extremely painful and inconvenient!!! As a consequence, I haven’t been able to keep up with my blog for the past couple of tasks; so here is a 30-second round-up… 
 
Task 6; the handyman task saw Elle, as PM, screw-up in the first couple of hours; missing the deadline to get a flyer to the printers and resulting in Magim having to do a shonky handwritten note as the only means to advertise their services over the two days… Thereafter followed scenes reminiscent of Laurel & Hardy in one of their ‘handymen’ films and ultimately team Versatile lost the task… What followed though was carnage; firstly when Elle’s incompetence as PM resulted in her being fired without even having the dubious task of selecting who would be brought back into the Boardroom… Magim as the sub-team leader, was promoted to PM to make that decision and his promotion was short-lived as he too was fired once back in the Boardroom… But the carnage didn’t end there and April also found herself on the wrong end of Lord Sugar’s fickle finger of fate as the bloodbath in the Boardroom ended with her being fired too… 
 
Task 7; moving on then and we had the ‘pop-up’ shop task, with the teams heading ‘oop’ North to Manchester, to first trade discount items on the street and then, having determined the best sellers on day one, to return to the wholesalers to restock ready to open a ‘pop-up’ discount shop on day two… Gary as the ‘retailer’ became PM for Versatile, having beaten Joseph to the post – which wasn’t the only ‘beating of the task’; as Scott, PM for Connexus, later imagined Brett threatening to punch him in the face… Karren though was on-hand to put this little urban myth to bed and it seemed likely that whilst Brett may have wanted to punch him in the face, he didn’t actually verbalise this… Selina continued through the task with a face like a slapped backside and managed to mislead the team into believing that individual sales were important to the task; leading to something of a revolt among the team and ultimately resulting in them losing the task as the key indicator was in fact, the total amount of assets owned by the team, in terms of cash and stock at the end of the day… Back in the Boardroom though and Selina, who is almost as Teflon-coated as Richard, evaded being fired when Scott chose to bring Sam and Brett back with him… Ultimately, I can’t quite see Lord Sugar going into business with someone like Brett who is a stickler for process and rules, but he did escape on this occasion and the axe fell on poor old Sam… 
And so, here we are, bang up to date and ready to review task 8; if it was titled in the style of ‘Friends, it would be ‘the one with the parties’… Yes, this week the teams had to put on a birthday party for two children ~ with a budget of £2,000 for each party, I would perhaps have to redefine them as being ‘two spoilt children’!!! Gary once again found himself as PM, by virtue of the fact that his ultimate business plan involves setting up an ‘events planning’ company with Lord Sugar. Over on team Connexus; Selina found herself in the PM role that being her current area of business… 
 
Image obtained from www.djinblackpool.co.uk 
Team Versatile started very well; they attended the initial meeting with the parents and the birthday boy himself. They asked the right questions, elicited the right responses, built rapport with the client and even managed to remember to get the client’s contact details so that they could ‘up-sell’ additional products over and above the initial £2,000 budget (like I say, spoilt!!!)… Even Karren was mightily impressed with the team at this stage… Nothing could go wrong… Or could it… 
 
The approach taken by Selina and her team at this stage was quite the opposite… Probably not helped by her proclamation that she ‘didn’t have kids and didn’t like them’; Selina’s approach in their meeting was to bombard the parent and child with numerous suggestions for a theme, without even pausing for breath to allow them to respond to the proposed suggestions… When she then walked away without obtaining the mother’s contact details, their party appeared doomed from the off… Or was it… 
 
The teams went off to find venues and do their planning for the party; for Gary it was all going well when he managed to persuade the birthday boy’s father to fork out an additional £90 for party bags for the 10 guests, as well as an extra £175 for customised t-shirts as suggested by David. Selina on the other hand had to take a chance by spending £10 per bag on the party bags for the birthday girl, in the hope that she would be able to persuade the client to fork out for them on the day… This turned out to be one of those moments where the term ‘to assume is to make an ass out of ‘u’ and me’, was extremely pertinent in the circumstances, when the client told Selina that had she asked the question in the initial meeting, she [Selina] would have been told categorically to avoid party bags… Ooops! 
 
Image obtained from reddit.com 
Back over with Versatile though and a bigger issue was looming… Having been told by the birthday boy that they wanted a chocolate cake, Charleine and Joseph had purchased various the ingredients, including chocolate fingers, maltesers and chocolate spread to make said cake, overlooking the express instruction from their client that the mother had a severe nut allergy – were they actually going to create a first, by killing someone on the task??  
Well obviously not, but Gary did manage to scare the pants off them by casually mentioning that the label of chocolate spread warned that the ‘product may contain nuts’ and then making no real effort to properly reassure them that she wasn’t going to end the day in anaphylactic shock until he had to be told to do so by Karren… 
 
Now; don’t get me started on the whole irritating risk-averse nature of food packaging these days – I did once prepare a Marks & Spencer’s ready meal, which said on the plastic packaging encasing the food; ‘remove before eating’… Seriously?? Do they really think that I am going to be in such a hurry to eat the food, that I will consume the packaging too!!!! The issue of the chocolate spread hung over the party like a black cloud and was only resolved once the father had been taken into the kitchen to see for himself that the item would be safe for his wife to be near… 
Sadly, for team Versatile, the excitement over whether they were going to kill the birthday boy’s mother, turned out to be the highlight of the day – with all other activities falling a little flat and being described by Lord Sugar as more like ‘an Ofsted inspection’ than a party; David screwed up two of the customised t-shirts by not properly applying the transfer and losing half of the picture ~ the part which said ‘Happy Birthday’ and the party bags were frankly just rubbish… 
Image obtained from tshirtblog.org 
 
 
Image obtained from primaryopinion.com 
Back in the Boardroom and the figures spoke for themselves; Teflon-coated Selina was saved by the equally Teflon-coated Richard and the frugality (worthy of an honorary ‘Yorkshire’ man), he adopted to controlling the team’s finances throughout the task… Despite both clients refusing to pay the teams’ the full amount of £2,000 (as they were entitled to do), Connexus snatched the task by managing to hold onto £218 more of the budget than Versatile… 
 
Versatile were thoroughly taken to task on debacle, though it was David and his suggestion of the customised t-shirts who came in for most of the flack and it was he who had to go… 
Charleine almost got herself fired; when Gary said that he would be bringing David and Joseph back into the Boardroom, she got up to leave – without being invited to do so, prompting a telling-off from Claude and an unprecedented decision by Lord Sugar to bring them all back into the Boardroom… The interlude gave David some hope that perhaps she had overstepped the mark and would be booted out, leaving him in the process, but that wasn’t to be… 
 
However, the real problem in this task was Gary… Karren, having praised Gary’s approach on day one of the task at the client meeting, turned to Lord Sugar in the Boardroom and categorically told him that the party was dreadful and that she wouldn’t expect him to want to go into business with Gary on that basis… For some reason though, he survived - though I do think that Lord Sugar is getting a bit ‘soft’ in the process these days and seems to be giving more and more of the candidates the ‘benefit of the doubt’… Will he survive much longer – my guess would be probably not; his win in the retail task last week appeared to more good luck than good management and his head is firmly now risen above the parapet and that can only mean his performance will be under increased scrutiny… He has been described as being too corporate, which is probably true and that doesn’t bode well for him … 
What we learnt about the Candidates… 
We learnt two things this week; firstly do not trust Charleine – she will stab you in the back, the minute it is turned as David found out this week; when she shared his [David] thoughts on Joseph with Joseph himself and had a self-satisfied look on her face as she did so… 
 
Image obtained from cutcaster.com 
And; Richard quite clearly sees himself being canonised in the near future ~ for he is the ‘saviour’ and no team on the Apprentice can win without him being part of it… Frankly, he needs to watch that his halo doesn’t slip down and choke him!!!! 
... And then there were 8... 
 
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